COVID-19 vaccine uptake in children stalls as less than 10% of 5-11s jabbed

Less than one in 10 children aged 5-11 have received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, more than two months after NHS England began rolling out jabs for this age group, official data shows.

Needle and vaccine vial
(Photo: IMAGINESTOCK/Getty Images)

According to data published on 8 June - just over two months after NHS England began to deliver jabs to around 5m children aged 5-11 - just 452,870 have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

NHS England has said that vaccination is a ‘personal choice between families and their children’ - but uptake of vaccinations in children aged 5-11 is far below any other age group and has slowed significantly over the past month.

The current level of uptake among 5- to 11-year-olds means that only 9% have had their first COVID-19 jab. After a slow initial rollout reached just 6% in this age group in the first month, coverage has risen by just three percentage points in the subsequent month, indicating a 50% slowdown in uptake.

COVID-19 jabs

Rollout in children aged 5-11 is much slower than in older age groups, with just under 60% of children aged 12-15 vaccinated with at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine and 70% or more in all other age groups.

The rollout of jabs to children aged 5-11 began on 4 April after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended in February that all children in this group would benefit from COVID-19 vaccination.

The committee recommended a ‘non-urgent’ approach to the vaccine rollout of this age group - in contrast to the urgent rollout employed with other groups throughout the pandemic.

RCGP chair Professor Martin Marshall said last month: ‘Throughout the pandemic, GPs and our teams, working with colleagues across the health service, have pulled out all the stops to ensure as many people as possible are protected from COVID-19 through vaccination.

‘Vaccination is the most effective thing patients can do to protect themselves from the virus, and the JCVI has recommended that 5- to 11-year-olds get vaccinated. Our view is that parents should make an informed and educated decision about whether to vaccinate their children, but the evidence shows that this is a safe and effective health intervention, and we would encourage take-up.

‘It remains key that anyone who has not been vaccinated, or is not fully-vaccinated, or is now eligible for a booster but haven’t yet had it come forward and book an appointment to get vaccinated.’

NHS England spokesperson said in May: ‘Getting vaccinated is a personal choice between families and their children and we have now sent invites to everyone eligible, including to the parents of one million children aged 5 and 6 last week – with people able to book an appointment via the National Booking System.’

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